The Maremma Sheepdog originated in Central Italy. It has been used as a livestock guardian in European mountainous ranges for over two thousand years. The dog takes its role as flock guardian very seriously. It has been known to attack wolves and bears and even win these battles. It will also attack any thieves that dare to try to purloin a sheep. The dog is so trustworthy with a flock that the shepherds often left them for days without any supervision. The dogs would continue to guard the flock whether the shepherd was there or not. They do bond with the flock more than the owner and will lay their lives down for the flock too without hesitation.
The dog's natural guarding instincts are sometimes used to flocks other than sheep. Putting the puppies within the flock at an early age so they are imprinted to guard that particular flock does this. They are used with cattle and with sheep, and are now being used to help restore the population of penguins in some areas where predators have decimated their group.
This dog has a very functional double coat that is maintenance-free. It allows the dog to be outdoors in all kinds of weather. It will repel water and brambles and is thick enough to withstand very cold weather. The coat is light-colored and will also reflect heat during the summer, although the dog will tend to be less active in hot weather. It gives off no doggie odor and moults mostly once, twice in bitches. This dog doesn't really need to be bathed and the dog's coat makes it pretty much maintenance-free outdoors.
Like any other large guard dog, a Maremma may cause trouble getting home insurance and require consent from your local homeowner's association. There is pet liability insurance that you can purchase to help in the event your dog bites someone.
The Maremma Sheepdog is not an obedient dog 100% of the time. It is easily trained, but it makes all of its own decisions. That means that a trainer will issue a command and there will be a lag of a few seconds as the dog thinks it over. If it finds your command reasonable, it will comply. Otherwise, it might decide to ignore you or do its own thing.
The dog needs to be socialized early and obedience training should start within four to six months of age. It does have a very good memory and will remember any cruelty done to it and won't hesitate to bite anyone, even its owner, if it thinks it has been treated unjustly. This dog can also be very affectionate to its immediate family unit, however, when it is properly socialized.